This 400-Year-Old Valentine’s Poem Features the First Known Use of the Word ‘Dildo’
Roses are red, violets are blue…
by molly fitzpatrick
Consider this a necessary shot of insulin to regulate the level of Valentine’s Day sugar in your bloodstream. “The Choise of Valentines,” written by Elizabeth satirist Thomas Nashe in 1592 or 1593, marks the first known use of the word “dildo” in the English language.
In this erotic poem — which remained unpublished until 1899 — the speaker, Tomalin, finds his lady love Francis at a brothel. His excitement results in premature ejaculation, but once his erection is restored, they have sex. To his dismay, Tomalin quickly comes again. Undeterred, Francis brings herself to climax with a dildo.
Like the toy in question, the poem is long (really long). Read “The Choise of Valentines” in full here, and enjoy this appetizer in the meantime:
My little dilldo shall supply their kind:
A knave, that moves as light as leaves by wind;
That bendeth not, nor fouldeth any deal,
But stands as stiff as he were made of steel;
And plays at peacock twixt my legs right blithe,
And doth my tickling suage with many a sigh.
For, by saint Runnion! he’ll refresh me well;
And never make my tender belly swell.
[h/t John Gallagher]